Khartoum — The United Nations-African Union peacekeeping Mission in Darfur (Unamid) has handed 11 team sites across Darfur to the Sudanese government. The last closure, the Zamzam site in North Darfur, closed on Saturday. The restructuring will also mean the loss of more than 570 jobs for Sudanese support staff.
At a press briefing on behalf of the Joint Special Representative on the Mission's ongoing restructuring process in terms of UN Security Council Resolution 2363 at the Unamid office in Khartoum's Manshiyeh District today, Unamid spokesperson, Ashraf Issa referred to the lifting of US economic sanctions on Sudan and assured the Sudanese of the Mission's "continued support to our host government" and expressed hope that this decision "avails a window of opportunity leading to development and sustainable peace in Darfur and across Sudan".
UNSC Resolution 2363
Issa pointed out that UN Security Council Resolution 2363 adopted on June 29 has already led to the ongoing reconfiguration of Unamid's operations: "This is based on a two-pronged approach, combining peacekeeping and stabilisation efforts.
"Unamid will concentrate traditional peacekeeping tasks around the greater Jebel Marra area, while the rest of Darfur will benefit from stabilisation endeavours that will see the Mission working more closely than ever before with humanitarian and development partners.
"On September 22, 2017, representatives of the Government of Sudan, the African Union, the United Nations and Unamid met in New York for the 24th meeting of the Tripartite Coordination Mechanism on Unamid. In the spirit of mutual cooperation and support towards the implementation of the Mission's reconfiguration, the Government requested details on the establishment of the proposed temporary operating base in Golo, Central Darfur, which Unamid has now provided. Currently, talks are ongoing with the Government of Sudan in this regard."
Issa explained that to reinforce the agility of its operations on the ground, the Mission is also restructuring its uniformed personnel in two phases.
"Currently, we are in Phase 1 of the reconfiguration process which is expected to be completed by January 2018. At the end of Phase 1, we will be reducing our authorized ceiling for uniformed personnel to 11, 395 military and 2,888 police.
"We have closed 11 team sites across Darfur... Of these, Zamzam, North Darfur, was the last to be closed yesterday on 21 October."
"Simultaneously, we have closed 11 team sites across Darfur according to the timelines provided by United Nations Headquarters in New York and the Security Council. Of these, Zamzam, North Darfur, was the last to be closed yesterday on 21 October. The deadline we at Unamid initially set for ourselves was the end of this month, but we managed to close the sites well before this," Issa said.
"In line with general UN practices in post-conflict regions, the Mission recommends the Government of Sudan to transform team sites handed to them into facilities that contribute to the overall development of local communities and take into account the wishes of the local population, whenever possible."
Issa continued that Phase 2 involves a further reduction of military personnel to 8, 735 and police personnel to 2,500 by 30 June 2018. "By the end of January 2018, there will be a review of Phase 1, following which Phase 2 shall commence."
Issa said that the reduction in military and police components will inevitably lead to a reduction in civilian staffing and explained that "a detailed Civilian Staffing Review, was conducted by representatives of UN Headquarters.
"It has been decided that civilian post reductions will take place in two phases. The first phase will be completed by 31 December 2017 and will lead to the abolishment of 426 posts. The second phase will witness the reduction of 147 posts, by 30 June 2018.
"The Mission recognises and empathises with the human impact of such reductions. We have taken all measures possible to ensure that the impending separations are conducted in line with established UN policies, rules and procedures.
"Plans are underway to hold a career fair, mainly targeted at those staff who might be affected by these post reductions."
Issa said that "every effort is being made to ensure that separating staff receive timely entitlements and have adequate notice to prepare for their next steps. It should be noted that pension entitlements usually take longer to process as the Pension Fund deals with staff from all UN entities, including peacekeeping missions, Agencies, Funds and Programmes."
As we enter this new phase, we all need to supplement and complement our efforts towards bringing about lasting peace and development in Darfur, Issa concluded.